Ever since Snapchat brought temporary posts to the mainstream, the popularity of social media stories has only increased. Apps like Instagram, Facebook, and now even Twitter have adopted stories and they’re part of every user’s daily experience. Rather than the permanent, highly-edited images of standard social media feeds, stories are raw and unedited slices of life. Meaning they go against what social media usually ends up being about – so why are they so popular? Cover photo by: Kristin Hardwick
Reasons why social media stories are gaining popularity.
Expectations are Lower
Instagram started out as a place for people to post their edited shots of grand adventures and expensive food. The competition was fierce and the expectations were high, so it was intimidating to post on Instagram. A post could easily feel sub-par compared to everything else. Stories lower the barrier to posting since the expectation is that the images will be of lower quality and more frequent. Stories are not works of art. They have redefined what Instagram was for and made it accessible to every person, even those who don’t go on crazy adventures with fancy cameras. Users who may have been afraid of getting their images judged are less afraid of having their stories judged!
Real-Time Events are More Interesting than Past Events
Instagram stories are live, in a way. No one is going to put their old adventures on their stories, but they might upload them as a normal Instagram post. Seeing a story close to when the event happened makes the viewer feel closer to the person who posted. You wonder what’s going top happen, because maybe it hasn’t even happened yet. Since stories only last for 24 hours, you feel more immersed in what’s happening. Timely events are fantastic for engagement, and you know you’ll want to see the full story before it disappears.
They Craft a Narrative
They’re called stories for a reason. Stories on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter are part of a narrative. They have a beginning, middle, and end, with a good hook and an exciting climax. A story-based framework is more engaging than just a photo of what your friend had for dinner. Stories are like a miniature movie, except your friends are the stars. Everyone loves to engage with a compelling story, and it’s even in the name! Every social media story is a real story, no matter how mundane, and should be treated as such.
Humans Love to Share and to Observe
Social media has shown that humans love to show off what they’re doing and to clandestinely observe what others are doing. We feel the need to broadcast moments of our lives that we may not have before, and to see what everyone else is broadcasting. Social media is already about that though – what do stories do differently? It’s the fact that it feels authentic. People post things on their stories that they would never post on their highly edited and curated feeds. It’s less glamorous and feels like we’re spying on something private. And we love that.
Bonus: Brands Love Stories Too
Stories are fantastic for companies big and small. Much like in a normal social media feed, business posts blend in with posts from friends and family. However, while some social media feeds deemphasize businesses and brands that don’t pay to promote their posts, stories are (for now) untouched, and a direct way to reach followers. While someone is scrolling through their stories, they will inevitably pass by a company’s posts. And businesses can take advantage of the same benefits as an individual. Stories give them the opportunity to appear more organic, authentic, and able to connect with fans.
Next time you’re on Instagram or Twitter and scrolling through you feed, take note of how much time you spend looking at stories. You may realize that you spend as much time looking at stories as you do at feed posts!